Digital dowloads – an update

2 November 2010 § 1 Comment

Apparently, my discovery happened at about the same time that lots of other people discovered the same blue post. To make matters worse, there was another blue post on the EU forums calling it a bug that would be fixed, adding to the confusion. Add to this the lack of information from news sites, and of course you had all sorts of panicky e-mail and posts.

Today, Bashiok clarified it all:

Prior to the December 7 launch of Cataclysm, all current World of Warcraft players will receive the Cataclysm intro cinematic as part of an upcoming patch. In addition, all other in-game cinematics (including previous ones such as the Wrathgate movie) will be available for download to players who have not previously installed them. These cinematics will be automatically downloaded in the background while you play the game, after other critical game data has been received. (Source)

So, everything solved? Definitely, on the Blizzard side: though it would be nice if blue posters were a bit more coordinated, I think Blizzard has reached the size (and geographical spread) where these errors of communication will happen, and the only thing to do is to post some more to clarify.

However, I want to spend a couple of lines on something else that rubbed me the wrong way in the whole deal, and that’s Boubouille’s patronising tone. He posted something on the matter yesterday, and then something more today to announce Bashiok’s clarification, and both times he used a tone that implied people worrying about this matter were little kids whining. I don’t want to belittle Boubouille’s contribution to the community, which are much larger than anything I could ever hope to achieve. I also understand that he probably received myriads of e-mails, and I have no doubt some of those were hysterical (of the “OMG GONNA QUIT NAO” kind). But his position as a news reporter for the whole community should have trained him that these panic waves happen – and I still find the tone unjustified.

Maybe I’m being over sensitive over this, even though I don’t think my post was particularly whiny (and I did not send MMO Champ any e-mail) – but the fact he repeats the tone twice is really serious, because it means it’s not so much a slip (which can happen, given the amount of news posts he needs to write), but an intended snub to a part of his readership.The ironic part is that if he had reported the original blue post about the cinematics missing in the Wrath digital download, much of the panic could well have evaporated there and then, or at least we could have got an update from Blizzard much earlier.

Updates in a rush

23 March 2010 § 1 Comment

I have a couple of long posts in the making, but I spent a lot of time today already posting over on our new guild forums (which are awesome, and all thank to Irons), so I really don’t have the time or the patience to work on the long posts here. So, you get treated to some quick updates on what I’ve been doing (I know, you all can’t wait, right?).

The raid is hitting a bit of a brick wall. A combination of attendance issues, with some low morale, has caused pretty poor perfomance, which has started a bad vicious circle, so we stalled this past couple of weeks (as I partly posted last Wednesday). However, I’m pretty confident we will solve all this soon, mostly because for the first time in ages I really don’t think we have a “problem raider” in the group, neither in terms of skills nor in terms of personality (and yes, we’ve had both – several times).

Gearwise, Torjin, my mage, got his T10 gloves from vault, the 264 version. I managed to get enough badges to get the T10 robes from the vendor (the 251 version of course), so now he has 2T9 and 2T10 – the fourth of my characters to do so. He also completed Loremaster, which took a bit of search for the right quests, but hey, it’s done. Tsark is finally getting his 4T10 this week – too bad I’m unlikely to use it unless I get into a 25man raid, given that the set bonus really is geared towards shield spamming (and the 2T9 set bonus for mending is too good to give up). The gearing up on my other alts has slowed down, mostly because I’ve been focusing on levelling my Alliance space-goat lightning-shooter.

Wait, what?

Yep, as I breifly mentioned before, I rolled a draenei elemental shaman on Argent Dawn, as part of the Single Abstract Noun social experiment. The shaman is now level 29, on the verge of getting Reincarnation – and enjoying the quests in Ashenvale and the PUGs through Gnomeragan. It’s been actually nice to be able to level with a good community around myself, and the fact I got to lvl 30 so quickly bodes well. The biggest perk has been having a very active guild chat window (I had to change the size of it, to be able to follow it without having to scroll up constantly), and discovering a lot of interesting small blogs out there, which are small and quirky and a bit off the trodden path, but quite interesting. It’s like being used to the Hollywood blockbusters of the blogs, and being treated to the French Nouvelle Vague movies: sometimes you don’t understand what these blogs say, sometimes you think they are full of crap, but most often they just wow you, and you’re not sure why. I will have to change my links soon to reflect that – and it’s getting to the point where I will also have to reorganise them, because there’s just too many.

The guild itself has grown exponentially, beyond all expectations of its founders. I think the US chapter has more than 800 members now, with lots of being lowbie. It’s kinda nice to explore Alliance that way, and it’s funny to see people taking long afks to go read each other’s blogs (they are in the guild notes). My readership has shot up this last week, and I’m sure this has something to do with it. On the flip side, I think I died at least twice because I started following links and forgot to move my character to a safe spot…

SAN has had its share of drama, both real and fake. The real drama is, I think, an exercise in miscommunication and misunderstanding. Lots of the players in SAN are new to the whole concept of RP, and Argent Dawn is an RP server. Most people ask in guilds about the RP expectations in such a server. Others just stumbled into Goldshire and were… surprised. So they just gawked and pointed and laughed at the “fail RP”. The veteran RPers then pointed out that doing this is dangerous and counterproductive – and tempers flared.  Anyway, the incident seems closed, but I think it will have some big consequences. For one, Crazyhealer has closed her blog as a result of this, which is a shame – not because I was such a huge fan of hers (I had discovered her literally the day before), but simply because “any man’s death diminishes me”, to quote John Dunne. But also, this incident, coming so early in the history of the guild, may tarnish its image in the eye of the bloggers and readers who were thinking about trying it out – and thus make SAN lose out on potential people, discussions and links, which is really the main wealth of this guild.

As for the fake drama? Medicina is a bossy meany – just try to ask her about the guild bank, and you’ll see what she answers.

Single Abstract Noun recruiting

8 March 2010 § Leave a comment

Because I didn’t have my hands full enough with six 80s to gear/do heroics/raid with, I answered the call by Miss Medicina and rolled a draenei shaman on Argent Dawn. I don’t expect I will play there very often, or go very far, but hey, I couldn’t pass the chance to hobnob it with the bloggerati……

To buff or not to buff

3 March 2010 § 8 Comments

As you probably know by now, this week Blizzard introduced the “zone buff” they had promised when they previewed ICC. Hellscream’s Warsong (Alliance have a similar buff, but we don’t care about them anyway) increases health, damage and healing by 5% – and there’s future ranks pushing it up to a 30% total increase (that would mean having tanks with 65k+ health…). The most interesting thing was to observe the reaction of people around me.

Most people I talked to welcomed the buff: these are people who raid casually, and are most often strruggling through the Plagueworks on their 25-man, and have been for a few weeks. The buff, for them, is a way to push forward and see the rest of the content. Some of my fellow raiders felt the same – maybe because their 25-man was stuck as well (though normally on Blood Queen or Sindragosa), maybe because they saw this as a chance to move forward on our Lich King attempts. The reaction on the blogosphere has been more cautious. Miss Medicina feels this is a pity buff; Bobturkey feels that it’s too early, and wonders if this will make people wonder if their future progression is thanks to the buff or their effort. Dreambound is more cautious about it, simply regretting not finishing the instance before the buff went live – but the cautiousness may simply be due to her feeling a little sick (get well soon!).

My own reaction has been a study in contradictions. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may recall I was in favour of the buff. When I read the announcement on various news sites, though, I felt like Ragnaros: TOO SOON, BLIZZARD! Like many of my fellow bloggers have said, no guild has killed the Lich King in Heroic yet (actually, one guild just has, on 10-man – but yeah, not very different), and even the worldwide kills of the Lich King in normal are very limited. On Feathermoon, my realm, only one guild has so far (and they’re on Alliance,  did I mention they don’t count?). I also felt a lot of Kae’s disappointment about needing it. At the same time, the lure of finally killing the Lich King that much sooner, and thus start on hard modes, was pretty strong, so I decided to wait one raid and see. We assembled today, decided to forsake the badges of a full clear in favour of working more on the Lich King, extended the raid lockout, and in we went.

Oh boy. What a difference.

We had worked on the Lich King for about 6-7 hours, spread over a few different days. Our best result was getting to P2 and killing the first valkyr. Today, we got to see P3, and one of us went into Frostmourne to help Terenas. So there’s no doubt the buff is working. Do I feel diminished by the fact we got there with a little help from Garrosh? Well, the buff certainly helped us handle P1 faster, and kill the Valkyr consistently in the required time. It did not help us deal with the general mechanics of the fight though: from handling the Necrotic Plague, to moving correctly for Defile, to getting all the adds under control first, dead later. All these mechanics are not trivial, because Defile still wipes you if there’s more than a couple of ticks going, Necrotic Plague still is the only way to kill the P1 adds, and the various adds still kill you if they’re not under control (I should know – I died to them twice in a row today!).

In many ways, the buff is simply relaxing the gear check aspect of the raid – and not changing the actual fun mechanics. Of course, the two things are related: when you overgear an instance dramatically, you can simply ignore some of the mechanics because they don’t matter. Case in point as a sidenote: the weekly this week is Malygos, and the Power Sparks have been totally trivialised by the two additional tiers of gear since we last did it. Clearly, however, we’re not there for ICC. All this is giving you is a bit more leeway to play with: all in all, if this allows more people to progress, see more content, and feel less burnout (and there’s a lot of that going around, apparently: Linedan, Jov, BobTurkey…), then so be it. I’m sure that some of that burnout is not related to raiding and being stuck on bosses – but maybe a small part *is* linked to that, and that’s the thing Blizzard can act upon more easily.

In many ways, I go back to the Sunwell days. Dawn Vigil, my guild, managed to kill Kil’Jaeden before the release of Wrath. We did it because we got extremely lucky. Just as we killed Illidan at the end of August 2008, Blizzard nerfed the hell out of Sunwell, making it possible for us to clear the whole instance in little more than two months. Many raids ahead of us in progression got burned out on “unnerfed” Sunwell, many less progressed never made it there, or stopped at the first couple of bosses. Maybe, if they had introduced a zone-wide buff to Sunwell raiders, more people would have experienced the great relief I felt as Velen re-ignited the Sunwell we had cleared with the help of Kalecgos and Anveena.

And hey, if things get too easy, we still have the option of opting out of the buff!

I’m back!

9 February 2010 § 1 Comment

Three hours after I completed the last post, my computer died completely on me. Two days later, I left for a ski week – which means that buying a new computer had to wait until the following Monday. So, here I am – on a new laptop, working my way through the installation of all applications, the recovery of all my old files (most of which ARE recoverable, thank heavens) and dealing with the usual madness that is one week of news and e-mails and work. The good news is that my new laptop should handle WoW better than the old one (and yes, I play WoW on a laptop – the size of my apartment means I don’t really have a dedicated space for a PC, so a laptop makes more sense) – better processor, more RAM, about the same graphics card. The bad news is that I went from a traditional US keyboard, to a dumb French one. You may think this is a relatively minor issue – and it is, in the grand scheme of things. However, the French keyboard is radically different from the US one: it is an AZERTY keyboard, which means your “a” (a fairly common letter, we will agree…) is in the position where you would normally expect a “q”. Also, numbers require the shift key, for some reason (which makes me doubly happy about the number keypad). In short, any spelling mistakes you see for the next two weeks is just me getting used to the weird position of some of the keys.

In the meantime, things have progressed for WoW and for Dawn Vigil. Our holy priest, Naicella/Naieve, has started posting videos on YouTube – which I think is awesome: check them out here. Through those videos, I found out that Dawn Vigil has killed Valthiria, and is working on Sindragosa (may well have killed her Monday, for all I know…).

On the Blizzard side, Frostwing Halls has been released – and the blues announced that Invincible is going to be a 25-man only drop, which of course made 10-man raiders feel snubbed again. Anathema, Dreambound and Ancestral Knowledge all cover the issue, and I don’t think I can add anything more to their considerations. There’s a million ways Blizzard can use to make sure that something as cool as Invincible remains exclusive to the best raiders, without limiting it only to 25-mans. Once again, Blizzard needs to decide whether 10-mans really are a possible developlent path, or not. The good news, out of all this, is that it seems there is a  community of 10-man “hardcore” raiders, which partially answers my question of a while ago – although of course this could be just a very vocal minority as opposed to a decent chunk of the community.

Speaking of Ancestral Knowledge, Rul makes the same suggestion I made about loot ilvl. Now, if only Blizzard listened to us…

And for the final update about the 10-man blogosphere, Anathema is, apparently, hanging up his mindflay and his penance following a /gkick. I may have more to say about this, because the dynamic he describes in his guild made me reflect about the dynamic in own raid – and how to avoid making the same mistakes. For now, I selfishly hope that he reconsiders his decision and finds a new home, simply because I enjoyed reading his blog – and 10-man blogs are rare enough as it is.

And that’s all I have time for, now – I may post some more later on, during maintenance.

Wrath of the raid nerd, redux

19 January 2010 § 3 Comments

This is a difficult post, because I will have to criticise people I like and respect. So I want to preface it with a big warning: if I’m linking to your blog in this post, and I’m actually criticising what you’re saying, it is mostly because I was surprised and you elicited a reaction. I still think you’re awesome and all. Now that that’s out of the way…

If you know a Protection Warrior, chances are he or she is full of RAGE – and not in the sense of the nice red bar that lets them do stuff like tanking and dps’ing. No, I’m talking about foam-from-the-mouth, KHAAAAAAN! sort of behaviour. The reason? Why, a disgrace! Quite simply, Protection Warrior tanks do less dps than the other classes (DKs, druids and paladins).

No, really – you read well, and I haven’t mistyped it or anything. TANKS are complaining about their DPS. I think next in line we will have warlocks complaining that they cannot compete with ret paladins for healing. I mean, seriously: if a raid leader had to choose between a warlock and a ret paladin, and they both did the same dps, they will CLEARLY choose the paladin because the pally has a much higher healing through JoL, Art of War and what have you, right?

I’m gonna try to split this post in two. I will first offer some thoughts about the current issue – admittedly, an outsider’s perspective given I only played my warrior until lvl 3o and not even as Prot. I will then become more ambitious and mumble about nerd rages in general – and why they seem so frequent in the WoW community.

The Prot Wars

(Har har har! See what I did there?)

Warriors are getting hit with the nerf bat because, quite frankly, they are off the scale in PvP. Their toolbox of silences, stuns, snare escapes, and sheer survivability makes killing a warrior almost impossible. This is not “unauthorised pwnings of their better – y’know mages, hunters, etc – in arenas”, as Linedan writes. This is in BGs (which are much more lenient in regards to class balance) and against just about everyone, so much so that even a PvP noob like me noticed. To address this, Blizzard is reducing their Shield Slam damage and taking away from them a snare-escape tool. The snare escape seems relatively uncontroversial – most of the negative reaction comes from the Shield Slam change.

Ghostcrawler and the other blues have said they aim to keep threat generation unchanged, so what they take away from sheer damage, they will add back as threat coefficients. This is still on the PTR, of course, so I’d expect the numbers to be massaged and changed still, to make sure they reach this goal.

The negative reaction has two parts:

1. Prot warriors already have the lowest dps of the tanking classes: they risk their raid slots in tight dps races (like Festergut) if that dps dips any further. Honestly, I really, really cannot see this happening at all. I will accept the “warriors have the lowest tanking dps”, although a guildie who tanks on paladin, warrior and DK tells me that his warrior dps is higher than his paladin – but again, I don’t have hard data to back this hunch up, so I’ll accept the data Warwench compiled and Linedan comments. So, warriors are behind by 500 to 1000 dps to other tanks. Let’s say we’re in a 25-man raiding situation, with 3 warrior tanks: our raid is thus 3k dps behind a raid with DK tanks. That’s huge, right? Well, it sounds huge, until you realise that the same top guilds are producing in excess of 120k dps on Marrowgar, 140 on Saurfang, 115 on Deathstrike. Festergut, the famous dps race, has data recorded for more than 160k damage. In fights that last between 300 and 500 secs, the lack of 3k dps is adding about 10 secs to the fight. Will there be cases where those 10 secs will make the difference? Yes, of course – which is why all good raiders try to get even minimal increases to their dps. Will it be often? No, I don’t think so. Will it make anyone bench a warrior tank? Well, human stupidity has no limit – really. So I won’t say it won’t happen. I will also say that tanks were benched (or tank players rerolled to a different class) before, during Wrath – but because their tanking was more appropriate/more effective, especially on some encounters (Vezax and Sarth 3D being the two obvious cases, with Anub adds counterbalancing that). I find it hard to believe that guilds are going to bench their ICC-capable tanks, because of a 2% raid DPS difference. All raiders are investments for a guild – and tanks more so than most. I’d like to meet a raid leader who is happy to throw that investment away for a 10 sec gain.

2. Threat modifiers are a thing of the past: they scale badly, and most importantly, we were promised threat-through-damage in Wrath. Honestly, the promise part of this is not something I hold in much weight. Even assuming that Blizzard “promised” anything (and they are very cautious about that, because they know the fanbase will hold them to anything they *do* promise), I think their first job is to deliver a game that functions. Part of that functionality is, according to the current paradigm, some semblance of class balance which makes PvP viable and ensures enough variety in classes played to make PvE viable. So, if to deliver their main promise they have to break a lesser one, so be it – Asimov’s laws of robotics teach us that lesser laws can be broken in the name of higher ones.

The scaling issue is, potentially, more serious. Both in Vanilla and in BC, tanks had some trouble towards the end of the expansion cycle because their threat was not keeping up with dps. This was because threat came as fixed threat values associated with moves – and they were scaled to the starting gear for the expansion, not for the last tier of gear. The change towards “threat as damage” was supposed to solve this particular problem (which is, afaik, one of the reasons druids and paladins started winning out over warriors in BT and Sunwell – their threat scaled a bit better than warriors’). However, I don’t think we should worry too much about this issue either, simply because we are on the last patch of the expansion, so there will be very little (if any) further scaling before the major overhaul that is Cataclysm. Thus, assuming Blizzard does its job right and properly assigns threat modifiers to the various moves, we will see very little change because there will be little gear variation for dps to take into account.

So, in conclusion, I really don’t think we need to worry about scaling (because the next expansion is not too far off, and thus scaling cannot); I don’t really care about minor promises Blizzard needs to break to deliver a good game; and if anyone benches a warrior tank because a DK does more damage… well… let’s just say that doesn’t sound like a raid I’d like to join – and it’s also a bit premature to think about consequences that may happen in the future in reaction to a change, especially if that change actually solves a clear problem. Note that a) I’m not saying that the changes proposed will solve the “Prot are OP” problem of PvP (I don’t know enough about the mechanics of the class to judge that); b) I cannot in clear conscience exclude that some idiots will not force their tanks to reroll – but then again, some people were forcing Disc priests to gem spirit because “that’s what priests gem”, so….

Nerd rages!

This is the second time I find myself writing a blog post in reaction to another blogger, because their virulence surprised me (the first time was a reaction to Seri’s post about ICC gating). So, am I too much of a brown-noser, Panglossian type, always thinking that what Blizzard does is the best action in the best game there could be? I doubt that, and I think I’ve criticised Blizzard’s more than once in my blog, most often about their handling of 10-man raiding (great idea, needs to go deeper). I do however frown on extreme reaction – which is kind of ironic, because IRL I tend to have a true Mediterranean character, getting very involved in discussions with friends and heating up whenever I need to argue a point (which has brought me, more than once, into some embarassing situations when my discussion partners were not hailing from my neck of the woods and mistook my particular discussion style with animosity towards them).

I doubt Blizzard reads more than a few of the blogs out there – and I’m pretty sure no-one at Irvine reads my blog, for that matter (not that I can be compared to either Panzercow or Snarkcraft, of course). But I really don’t think we do the community any service by getting so caught up in our love for the game and our avatars to become irrational in our argumentations. Blizzard has shown before the ability to change their decisions, when faced with arguments and data that showed unintended consequences of their decisions. In fact, thanks mostly to Ghostcrawler’s efforts, we, the fans, have been much more part of the development cycle throughout Wrath than ever before. The result? A game that has gotten a lot better – and we’re not talking incremental improvements here, we’re talking orders of magnitude. Simply the idea of having 4 equally viable tank classes, and to have hybrid specs be competitive, is mindboggling to someone who went into Molten Core and was told to heal, even though I was, at the time, specced deep shadow. But hey, I was a priest, right? And priests cannot do anything but healing….

So, consider this my modest plea: let’s not give in to the temptation of the forum troll, who threatens and yells. If we have something to say, let’s use reason and arguments – my suspicion is, we will have a much higher chance to be heard.

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